Real Madrid 1-3 Barcelona (Benzema). Defeat in the final. Here is my reaction to the long-winded match. Coming up: Player ratings, press conferences and the post game podcast.
Real Madrid would be looking to lift their thirteenth Spanish SuperCup title when they played Barcelona in the final of the competition held in Saudi Arabia. There was a lot of talk about squad rotation after the tired semi-final performance against Valencia, but there was not much change to be seen in Carlo Ancelotti’s final line-up. Ferland Mendy did come in to start at left-back, with Luka Modrić also starting in midfield - but these couldn’t exactly be considered significant switch ups. Marco Asensio started on the bench despite impressing in the last game, with Eden Hazard and Rodrygo Goes amongst the other substitutes. Karim Benzema captained the team for another final.
Madrid needed to raise their against a stronger opponent this time out, but Barcelona started pretty smoothly. Madrid kept up to the pace at first, but problems arose when they were unable to match the opponents raised intensity. Los Blancos could have taken the lead when Ferland Mendy sent in a delicious cross over everyone but Karim Benzema, who cushioned a header wide. They would later rue that miss, after Antonio Rüdiger returned to the pitch from injury only to give the ball away and allow Robert Lewandowski to slot in Gavi to score. Madrid wouldn’t really recover from this goal, and Barcelona really decided to try and pounce at this point. It looked like Carlo Ancelotti’s men were holding on until half time, and even that didn’t work as Lewandowski managed to find all the space in the world in the box and tap home for two. Madrid had a lot to do to keep the score how it was, let alone go on to concede more goals.
When you generate virtually zero offense, & on top of that make this many mistakes defensively, you're already behind before you started. What else? The plan was to absorb and counter. Transition passing was slow and off-mark. Our possession was exactly where Barca want it to be.— Kiyan Sobhani (@KiyanSo) January 15, 2023
There were few chances to start of the second half. Just like the first however, most of the chances that did come fell to the other team. Thibaut Courtois was equal to Lewandowski from a tight angle at on stage as Barcelona continued to edge the play. He was then called to action again to deny Ousmane Dembélé from the other side. Madrid’s game plan was unclear, and they struggled to maintain even basic possession at times. Barcelona scored a third when Gavi set up Pedri to smash past Courtois, all but deciding the competition. Rodyrgo Goes tried to respond for Madrid after coming in off of the bench but his long strike was saved by Marc-André ter Stegen. Benzema did get a very late goal after finishing inside the area, but it was far too late to spark any kind of comeback. Final score, 3-1 to Barcelona.